API Business Models

Open Up the Vault, the KBC API Journey


Before we start on how we opened up the vault at KBC, I want to take on a short journey in someone’s life, just for the fun of it. Please meet Margot:

A year in the life of Margot

Margot has started a new job at Eneco as a social media strategist and of course, she needs an account to receive her paycheck. She chooses to open a new account with KBC because she receives meal vouchers and she can add those on KBC Mobile. She still had a previous account with BNP Paribas and she also wants to make sure that she adds that. She wants to have an entire overview of her accounts and also her meal vouchers in just one oversight within the KBC Mobile.   

As a thank you to her parents, she wants to treat them to dinner. To book that dinner experience, she uses an extra service within KBC Mobile to book a culinary experience in a nice restaurant nearby. As mentioned earlier, Margot also has a godchild, Peter. For his birthday in a couple of weeks, Peter wants to go to Plopsa, a theme park in Belgium, and Margot buys him tickets to Plopsa via KBC Mobile. Margot also needs a COVID Safe ticket to prove that she has been fully vaccinated and she can also see that COVID Safe ticket in KBC Mobile. She can also follow her favourite sports news on the app, get score alerts, be reminded when the matches start and end and when there’s a red card. 

Now, Margot is doing well at her job at Eneco, and she has to do a big presentation for the big boss, and she thinks she’ll need a new outfit to feel secure and comfortable (and because it’s also a very nice excuse to go shopping). So she shops at ZEB (online multi-brand fashion store) where she also gets a discount because she activated KBC deals. Margot is also worrying about how she’ll go to her boss’ office as it is located in a different part of town. Typically, she goes by public transportation or on a shared bike she can book via KBC Mobile, but for that occasion, she decides to use a shared car and book it via the KBC Mobile.  This makes her wonder whether she should buy a bike for herself instead of using a shared one. She goes to the Bike Republic website and she sees the perfect bike for her. Because she banks with KBC, she can simulate and ask for a loan immediately within the Bike Republic website and then repay the loan directly to the bike merchants. 

A year goes by and as mentioned above, Margot’s first love was accountancy. Aside from her main job at Eneco, she wants to start as an independent accountant. She has to go through the hassle of registering her business at Xerius (central contact point for administrative formalities in Belgium) but opening a business account is not one of them. She can apply for a business account directly on Xerius’s website. She also needs a CRM, so she chooses Teamleader. Within the Teamleader’s marketplace, she discovers On-Demand Financing, which is a service provided by KBC. This allows her to pre-finance invoices. She receives the amount of the invoice straight away and her counterparty only has to pay later. 

To congratulate herself, she has a look at Teslas on their website where she can request financing as an entrepreneur. However, it might be going a bit too far so she decides on a visit to the museum instead, with tickets bought on KBC Mobile.  

A year goes by and Margot receives a notification from the government that she has to fill in her tax return for the first time. This notification arrives both in her inbox and on her KBC Mobile. Because it is her first time and she feels a bit insecure about everything she’s done,  she decides to ask for some legal advice which she can book within two working days through a video call via KBC Mobile for business. Once that’s done, she wants to do something tax-deductible and so she asks Kate, the virtual assistant within KBC Mobile, for help. She sees that within KBC Mobile, she can easily donate to charities – for instance, she can give 40 Euros to Kom op Tegen Kanker (against cancer) but only pays 22 euros because it’s fiscally deductible

So there are a lot of things that Margot can do within KBC Mobile – things for her private life or her professional life. She can also be helped by Kate, her personal assistant. KBC Mobile is so diverse now that one could wonder, is KBC still a bank insurance company? 

KBC Mobile and How KBC launches services

KBC Mobile has been nominated the Best Mobile Banking App worldwide. We’re very proud of it and we have a lot of extra services with it but it’s the way that we also launched the services within the KBC mobile or even in general that I would like to highlight. We started from a concept, an MVP and turned it into a productive platform through improvements and listening to our customers. Today, we have 1.6 million customers using KBC mobile. 

We launched KBC Mobile in 2012 and back then, it was very innovative. You could do payment transactions in real-time within the app, shopping, you could transfer money to third parties that you had not predefined within the app, and you could also check your account information from a year back. If you look at it now, it’s very basic but we have added a lot of extra services thanks to the way that we look at the future. Digitalization of banking services and insurance is common, which is why we offer products and services from third parties but we also go to the opposite side as we start distributing our products in third-party channels, for way more than just payments. Because we live in a VUCA world, we look into open and beyond banking and offer all these services. 

Differently, the next level: sit back and relax, dear customer

If we look at open and beyond banking, the essence is captured in our three B’s strategy, where we say:

  • Be Personal & Instant
  • Be all-in-one app
  • Be everywhere 
Be Personal & Instant

Being personal and instant means we have to make sure that we offer our clients personal advice at the moment that they need it. We automate where it’s possible to ensure that we offer what’s needed in an instant: 

  1. If you are driving your car and get stopped by the police asking to see your insurance papers. Most people keep them in the glove compartment but it is also available on KBC Mobile.  
  2. If you give consent, we can proactively provide you with services that can be relevant for you in a certain context. For example, if we have consent, we can note whether you are traveling abroad and activate your cards to be able to pay in the entire world.
Be all-in-one app

Be all-in-one means you have all these extra services. This is really to attract people to our platform and to convert them into customers. If you look at our platform, we offer a lot of extra services which are typically structured around six domains. 

  • Payment services
  • Spare time
  • Mobility
  • Administration
  • Telco and Energy
  • Support society 

We have also opened up to platform users who don’t bank with us but can still use several of our services. 

Be everywhere

There are many KBC products and services that are offered by our partners on their own apps and websites. We believe that if we have partners with whom we can work together, and who want to offer a financial service within their distribution channel, then we can ease the life of our joint customers. We can add value for our partner, for KBC, and especially for our client. We also have a focus on some adjacent ecosystems, which are typically also linked with financial management, housing, energy, and mobility. We believe that we can support the local economy as well and that is relevant for us in our Belgian context. 

Developer Portal

If you want to integrate within the distribution channels of others, you have to have integration methods. That’s where our developer portal shows up. It is our digital store for business people and IT developers, showcasing the products and services that we offer to integrate into their own distribution channels. 

Our developer portal has two main parts. The first is Technical Integrations. We have the technical information for APIs that you need to integrate our solutions. The second part is Business Solutions, where we address entrepreneurs so they can see in practice and have an idea of how it could be to integrate a KBC product or service. We believe that APIs are the future and are key to realizing our Be everywhere strategy. 

We also believe that KBC has to be API ready so we’ve defined the four main building blocks for that:

Q&A section: 

Q: Where do you put the limit into the KBC user experience in terms of features that should be in your or your partner’s apps? How do you want to embrace the full customer experience in the life of your users? 

A: Currently, it’s linked to the ecosystems that we are present in. For example, travel. You cannot travel yet within the KBC Mobile. We are gradually building up the features depending on what our customers ask and need. I think the limit is defined by the customer. As long as they believe it’s relevant for us to put it in there, we will do that. If they believe it’s not relevant anymore, we’ll take it away. That’s really where I believe that the limit is. 

Katrien Van Gijsel

Katrien Van Gijsel

Business Innovation Manager at KBC Bank & Verzekering
I'm a result-driven connector with international business experience. Flourishing in changing and demanding environments, keen on continuously improving & learning. I combine being a strong analytical & conceptual thinker with excellent social and communication skills. Quick-witted & adaptable to change, like thinking out of the box, creative mind. I'm a trustworthy team player and stakeholder manager.

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